Category Archives: Northeast Metro

El Mariachi is so good that even the chips excel

Let me tell you why I love El Mariachi so hard: Even the chips and salsa that drop on your table the moment you take a seat are exceptional. These thick, deeply corn-flavored treats, fashioned on the premises from fresh-made tortillas, are positively addictive. They’re so crunchy that I had to look twice to persuade myself that they weren’t lightly breaded before they were fried.

Yes, the salsa is first-rate, too, a finely mashed reddish-brown puree of red chiles, tomatoes, and herbs, just spicy enough. But those chips? Perhaps the best I ever ate, I really could make a meal of them, if that didn’t involve missing out on the rest of the menu. But I can’t do that. It’s too good to skip. Continue reading El Mariachi is so good that even the chips excel

Grassa Gramma is the next best thing to dinner in Italy

I think Grassa Gramma is more than ready for prime time. Every single thing I’ve had to eat there in two visits (so far) has been really good, and the service was fine in that not-quite obsequious hovering style that’s been a hallmark of fine Italian dining in Louisville since Casa Grisanti went upscale in the 1970s.

But, even two months after Grassa Gramma opened its oversize front doors in Holiday Manor and with crowds trooping in, owner Kevin Grangier and General Manager Tarek Hamada are still striving for perfection. Continue reading Grassa Gramma is the next best thing to dinner in Italy

Meet the new Pine Room, something like the old Pine Room

Spring was in the air on the morning of March 10, 1977, when the Harrods Creek Volunteer Fire Department rolled out to an alarm at the old Pine Room restaurant on Upper River Road. A fire that began in the beloved restaurant’s kitchen quickly involved the rest of the building.

Before fire fighters could contain it, the building was gutted by fire, smoke and water. The restaurant, a local landmark since the 1940s, closed forever. In its heyday it had been a popular destination, known for its friendly saloon atmosphere, comfort food, and lounge pianist named Mable who kept a candle burning atop her grand piano.

Now, 40-some years later, the Pine Room is back, or something a lot like it, anyway. Continue reading Meet the new Pine Room, something like the old Pine Room

Go East to Con Huevos and Joella’s

Three years ago two interesting new locally owned fast-casual eateries came to town, and I loved them both: Con Huevos set a new standard with its delicious, chef-driven Mexican breakfast and lunch. Joella’s first introduced us to Nashville-style hot chicken, a feisty genre that might remind you of Indi’s hot fried chicken but that’s really not the same.

Both eateries have recently opened branches in the metro’s eastern suburbs. Naturally I had to check them out. Continue reading Go East to Con Huevos and Joella’s

Tandoori Fusion masters the science of fusion

When I first heard about Tandoori Fusion, the new Indian restaurant way out in the East End across the way from Costco, my imagination leapt up. I know that the tandoor, the iconic Indian clay oven, can reach temperatures upward of 900ºF, a searing fire that does something magical to meats and flatbreads too.

But Tandoori Fusion? Can these people possibly have mustered nuclear fusion, the fierce energy that lights up H-bombs and the Sun itself? Crazy! That would make some remarkable tandoori food, all right, and it would be wicked fast.

Nope. Continue reading Tandoori Fusion masters the science of fusion